October 01, 2019 Best of ABA Sections

Leave Some Trial Skills at the Mediation Door

By Frederick P. Alimonti

What are some of the critical distinctions between a lawyer’s approach to litigation and a lawyer’s approach to mediation? First, the mediator is an ambassador, not a decision maker. In litigation, we try to convince neutral parties to rule in our favor. Typically, one neutral decides the facts and another neutral decides the law. In the end, those neutrals acting together will bind us to a ruling. But in mediation, the only neutral party—the mediator—is utterly powerless to bind us to anything. Rather, the mediator serves as a go-between whom the parties use to bridge the divide between their views about the case and to establish enough common ground to induce and support a settlement.

Premium Content For:
  • Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division
Join - Now